Opinion

In Defense of One-way Streets

We can make more room for alternative transport modes while respecting the preferences of people who appreciate the efficiency of one-way streets.

By Kent Lee
Published June 07, 2012

I am a huge fan of Raise the Hammer and most of their initiatives. We can see that complete streets, and rapid transit initiatives are being supported now by politicians, the media, and even the chamber of commerce, and this is thanks in no small part to the dedication of the staff at RTH.

I truly believe that improving pedestrian, cycling, and transit conditions will have a transformative effect on the city, and can actually make it 'the best city in Canada to raise a child' as the City's vision states.

However, I believe that too often, livable streets get conflated with two-way streets. Evidence from other cities has shown otherwise, and indeed, one-way streets actually can provide opportunities to reach the livable streets goal in ways that two-way streets cannot.

"One-way streets are incompatible with walkable, livable streets."

This sentiment is all too common in Hamilton, and I suppose the deduction is obvious. The one-way streets in Hamilton are crummy, therefore it is due to the fact that they are one-way, and only two-way streets can be walkable.

I believed the myth too, for a time, but then I visited Montreal. Montreal is easily the best walking city in Canada, and some of their most lively streets are one-way streets. See Boulevard Saint-Laurent for proof. But when somebody mentions Montreal here, we get flooded with a lot of excuses why Montreal is so different from Hamilton. Isn't that just another form of exceptionalism, which RTH editor Ryan McGreal has written about?

Indeed, I find some of the one-way streets in Hamilton not just unpleasant, but downright offensive. But in all honesty, I also find Upper James street to be equally offensive, despite the fact it has two-way traffic. The best thing we can do to improve our one-way streets is not to make them two-way, but to improve/widen the sidewalks, add a bike path, and calm the speed of traffic.

Even Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead has been noted to be in favour of calming traffic measures on downtown streets.

And before somebody asks me if I think Upper James should be one-way: if it came with a cycle track and improved sidewalks, then yes, making it one-way would be a huge improvement over the status quo on that ugly street.

It's also not incidental that the famous on-street cycle tracks which have been installed in Montreal, Portland, New York, Vancouver, have almost exclusively been built along one-way streets. One-way streets are safer for cycle tracks, as there are fewer potential conflicts with turning traffic.

Now it may sound to you like I am a one-way street obsessed driving type. On a personal level, I don't drive, and so I'm quite agnostic towards street directions, but it cannot be denied that one-way systems give more opportunity for alternative transport modes to share the same roadway.

But there is an even more important reason to give one-way streets proper consideration. Fact is, many many people in this city value the efficiency of one-ways, and this is a democracy. Do you know what happens if a large section of the population feels they're being ignored? They start voting for a guy like Rob Ford.

Let that be a reminder that in a democracy, the pendulum swings the other way if you pull too hard.

Kent Lee is a urban planning technician currently living in Toronto, but with intentions to return to Hamilton.

118 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 07:40:44

Kent ... peoples are using the ONE-WAYS as freeways ... how can you make that pedestrian friendly ?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Rene Gauthier (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 11:11:44 in reply to Comment 78050

The one-way as a freeway argument is quite obtuse and very much abused on this site. Since when did a freeway have traffic lights that are sequential, based on travelling at a continuous speed of just slightly under 50 km/h? C'mon people! The only morons that are going that fast are just racing from Gage, to end up stopping in a panic at Melrose.

John and James are fine as two-way streets and until you can achieve the same or a better level of traffic flow, there is still no good argument for converting King and Main into two-way, especially when King Street is already bottlenecked from Wellington.

There really is only one way to make these streets a little more pedestrian friendly - better sidewalks. Of course having some place to walk to will help the same, otherwise the effort's for nought.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By DBC (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 11:17:24 in reply to Comment 78178

"....especially when King Street is already bottlenecked from Wellington."

Wouldn't you expect congestion in the core of a healthy urban metropolis? Especially when it's in the top 10 in the nation.

What is so objectionable to this concept? Hamilton's streets are like no other city's streets in Southern Ontario........and that's not a good thing. No one is rushing out to replicate the street design that exists in our core....and for good reason. It's not 1960 anymore.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By congestion indegstion. (anonymous) | Posted June 11, 2012 at 17:54:54 in reply to Comment 78179

You have your cause and effect backwards. Cores have congestion because many many people want to be there. Our core has congestion because we have crummy street design. If the city really wanted to change King then why in the world did they do what they did. Little bump outs that remove a lane of traffic but add nothing. If we are going to have the negative impact of reduced traffic lanes on our busiest street why can't we at least get something in return? Bike lanes? Patios? green space? Anything but a little bump out and then a few meters of no parking lane.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By DBC (registered) | Posted June 12, 2012 at 19:41:28 in reply to Comment 78323

I think you missed my (sarcastic) point.

Our core has no congestion.

If it were healthy it would have lots. Just like one would expect in a downtown core at rush hour.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 12:05:59 in reply to Comment 78179

When I can get around easier in Montreal in a thriving downtown district and cannot get around along Hamilton's depressed King Street I'd have to say no, I would not expect congestion in the core because its not healthy along the stretch thats is being discussed. What will it be like if it ever is healthy when its like it is now?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is Engaged is Allan Taylor? (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 12:20:09 in reply to Comment 78182

Know how I know you're trolling? Practically every street in Montreal is congested practically every hour of the day and there transit system is overflowing. Hamilton? You can drive through the city in 10-15 minutes without ever stopping, just about any time of day. Know what's a bigger waste of time than traffic congestion in Hamilton? Your BS posts.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 12:35:05 in reply to Comment 78183

Whatever on the obsession with Allan Taylor. As things are now I agree you can get through in a reasonable amount of time and frankly its expected. Its not fast, in fact its slow but its not gridlock either. Thats totally expected under the current economic conditions of the area. I have no problem stating the obvious. Has the street-scaping helped King Street? Depends on what criteria you are applying. Its a much more pedestrian friendly area in International Village but the quality of street life really hasn't improved dramatically for reasons that have little to do with walk-ability. IMO International Village is a failure on all fronts unlike James N which has been a success due to the influx of the arts community. Who is going to be that next community for International Village? All the elements for a James North success are there to duplicate Montreal's successful one ways except permanent residents with disposable income.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 12:54:00 in reply to Comment 78050

Absolutely, it is a problem when they use the streets as freeways, and I encourage traffic-calming measures such as narrowing the street, adding on-street parking, etc.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 07:42:47

Thank you for your meaningful contribution to the ongoing local dialogue on one-way streets vs. two-way streets, Kent.

An opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator today by Terry Cooke titled "One-way streets are killing our city - and its people" also makes a meaningful contribution to the dialogue: http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-06-07 07:45:18

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Al Huizenga (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 07:51:07

Hi Kent! I'm certainly not equipped to debate an urban planning technician about traffic management, but I have to disagree with this:

"One-way streets are incompatible with walkable, livable streets."
This sentiment is all too common in Hamilton.

Sure, it's pretty common among RTH types - downtowners who are trying to save their neighborhoods and chart an urban future for Hamilton. But it's not common at all among councillors, city staff, and the suburban interests that seem to dominate the agenda in this city.

There's probably a reasonable technical conversation to be had about whether we can accomplish the goals of livability and walkability with one- or two-way streets. I just think it's the wrong conversation for right now.

We've already got a guy like Rob Ford - squishier but no less intransigent. It's not time to make concessions. It's time to make ambitious demands and reset the agenda. Don't you think?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By stopitman (anonymous) | Posted June 10, 2012 at 00:29:47 in reply to Comment 78053

Even where I work (at a GTA regional municipality where suburban, 6-lane roads are too common) Hamilton's one-way streets are used as an example of what not to do. The only part of Main/King through the downtown I've found pleasant to walk through is the area where King turns into 2 lanes because it doesn't feel like I'm standing beside highway.

In relation to this blog entry, I think this article recently posted to Atlantic Cities is appropriate:
"Rethinking the Economics of Traffic Congestion" - http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/06/defense-congestion/2118/

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:28:54 in reply to Comment 78053

Sure, it's pretty common among RTH types - downtowners who are trying to save their neighborhoods and chart an urban future for Hamilton. But it's not common at all among councillors, city staff, and the suburban interests that seem to dominate the agenda in this city.

I originally wrote that sentence towards RTH, but I thought it was too combative so I changed it to Hamilton.

We've already got a guy like Rob Ford - squishier but no less intransigent. It's not time to make concessions. It's time to make ambitious demands and reset the agenda. Don't you think?

I have to admit I don't know much about Bob Bratina, but I remember his council career was focused on downtown revitalization, and he went on a famous rampage against his colleagues when they cancelled a plan to redesign some downtown streets.

Has he abandoned all of his principles already?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 07:56:15

One of the things I've tried to argue is that two-way conversion isn't just for pedestrians and cyclists: it also makes it easier for drivers to reach a destination on a given street. After all, two-way conversion serves not only to slow the speed of automobile traffic but also to increase the flexibility and usability of the street network.

I mean, it's certainly possible to design a one-way street so that it is pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly, but why bother? The whole purpose of one-way traffic is to maximize the speed and volume of through traffic, and measures that make a one-way street pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly will also serve to reduce the speed and volume of through traffic - albeit without the benefits of two-way conversion to local businesses.

If we're going to reduce the speed and volume of through traffic anyway, we might as well do it in such a way as to maximize the street's usefulness for all local modes - driving as well as walking and cycling.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 18:04:49 in reply to Comment 78054

Yes, when driving within the lower city (not through it) the one-way streets are incredibly inconvenient at times.

I've said this before-- God help you if you are in the wrong lane (try changing lanes when everyone else is driving the street like a freeway) when the street you need to turn onto comes up, you have to drive blocks out of your way to get to where you need to be.

That's why businesses here suffer as a result of the one-way streets-- I know that if the 5-10 minutes I had available to me to pop into a store to price something or see if something is available was taken up doubling back to reach my destination due to a missed turn, then I would just give up and go home.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2012-06-07 18:05:07

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:04:41 in reply to Comment 78054

Think of it in terms of the LRT proposal on King Street. If the proposal involved turning King into a two-way street (with one or fewer lanes in each direction), the whole proposal would be DOA.

A one-way + LRT on King is going ahead, and offers a much greater chance of actually happening. Sure we could propose to make it 1 lane each direction, but the plan would be in the trash faster than you can say democracy.

The desire for movement of through-traffic is still here, and I think any proposal which we want to get to the reality stage will have to take that into account.

A collection of one-way streets allow the same amount of through traffic in less road space (compared to the same number of two-way streets), which gives us more opportunity for bike lanes, LRT lanes, sidewalks, and all those other lovely things.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-06-07 13:06:25

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:27:13 in reply to Comment 78054

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:35:49 in reply to Comment 78060

I'm happy to "bother" doing something if there is a demonstrable benefit to doing it. In the case of our streets, the only benefit to keeping them one-way is that it allow fast flow-through for large volumes of automobiles.

As soon as we decide that this should not be an overriding priority, it no longer makes sense to a retain a street design that has fast flow-through as its only benefit.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:40:45 in reply to Comment 78064

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:48:00 in reply to Comment 78065

Did you notice that we're discussing this in the comments on a published article on RTH defending one-way streets?

Please stop with the strawman attacks. I'm prepared to give fair consideration to any option, but that does not preclude drawing conclusions about which option makes the most sense given a set of policy objectives.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:51:18 in reply to Comment 78066

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 09:03:16 in reply to Comment 78067

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 09:00:29 in reply to Comment 78067

Debate is good, but it must be conducted honestly and in good faith. Please stop misrepresenting what I've written.

I clearly addressed the author's argument that it is possible to design workable one-way streets by agreeing that a one-way street can offer an environment conducive to walking and cycling. However, I also noted that a one-way street cannot offer the same accessibility to drivers looking for a destination on that street as a two-way street.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 09:08:19 in reply to Comment 78068

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By slodrive (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 11:10:57 in reply to Comment 78071

If you've read previous articles, you'd see that Ryan has established the the benefit of two-way outweighing the benefit for quick-flow traffic...as a means of providing the city of Hamilton the maximum benefit.

I don't think this is at all limiting any consideration that could benefit the city. It's merely the conclusion based on previous evaluations.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 11:36:57 in reply to Comment 78079

I actually got that message in this exchange. The problem is that does not address the idea that one way as it is implemented is not even being discussed but rather a one way system in Montreal that provides that maximum benefit to the community and how he dismisses it out of hand as an unnecessary effort to even discuss. The letter writer obviously has the same overall goals as the majority here but is putting forward an idea that deserves consideration. With the dynamics of this city it is important to keep in mind the majority either don't care about your vision for traffic regulation and flow or oppose it. If it means living with Main St as is because of the lack of support needed for change would it not be better to put forth a plan that would not meet with so much opposition and would dramatically improve the livability of Main St? This is the reason its worth the bother to compromise, because in all likelihood it will be required to compromise to get any change at all. Certainly the first thing I'd push for is a change in the 403 Main St off ramps to go to a signaled intersection and for a reduction in lanes through to Victoria with a dedicated bike path, wider sidewalks and dedicated bus lane. Simply having a stop light for the off ramp and not having a green light its even possible to catch to do the wave just past that ramp would also calm things right away without drawing huge objection. None of these item would impair the ability of 2 way conversion in the future either.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:17:51

"I mean, it's certainly possible to design a one-way street so that it is pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly, but why bother?"

It's statements like this that make it difficult, if not impossible, to reach a compromise.

Thanks for the article, Kent. An enjoyable read. Always nice to see a point of view that is not the same as the other articles flooding this page lately.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:24:23 in reply to Comment 78057

It's statements like this that make it difficult, if not impossible, to reach a compromise.

How do you reach a compromise between two-way traffic and one-way traffic? One wag suggested last week that we could compromise on 1.5-way streets (and I'm a bit horrified to think that we might have done just that on York Blvd), but the important question is:

  • Do we want streets optimized for fast through traffic or streets optimized for livability and multi-modal choice?

Given all the many demonstrated social, economic and environmental benefits of the latter, it makes more sense that we should commit fully to building complete streets instead of trying (and failing) to design complete streets without sacrificing arterial flow-through.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:54:23 in reply to Comment 78058

Do we want streets optimized for fast through traffic or streets optimized for livability and multi-modal choice?

Personally I want them optimized for livability, but we live in a city of 200,000 voting drivers who say otherwise.

I see a compromise of livable one-way streets as a great solution. One we could actually get built without igniting a civil war.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:19:12 in reply to Comment 78101

As a driver, pedestrian, and would-be cyclist, two-way streets are the compromise. They offer the same livability as restricted one-ways, but are far more convenient and efficient for drivers who want to get around their city and not just speed through it.

Frankly, slowing the one-ways will just annoy all those through drivers you're concerned about, without offering a more flexible street grid to local drivers. I just don't see the point. Not to mention the fact that a bunch of yellow lines are considerably less costly than bump-outs, boulevards, speed bumps, and all the other suggestions that have been thrown out in this increasingly quixotic need to cling to our one-ways.

However, I believe that too often, livable streets get conflated with two-way streets. Evidence from other cities has shown otherwise, and indeed, one-way streets actually can provide opportunities to reach the livable streets goal in ways that two-way streets cannot.

Could you provide some links to this evidence, because as far as I can see, the trend is going the other way.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 17:51:17 in reply to Comment 78111

Posts like this make it evident that some people don't want to see the evidence that stands in the face of their own views. Several examples of such evidence have been posted over and over. People go on, acting as if it doesn't exist.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 15:32:35 in reply to Comment 78111

Not to mention the fact that a bunch of yellow lines are considerably less costly than bump-outs, boulevards, speed bumps, and all the other suggestions that have been thrown out in this increasingly quixotic need to cling to our one-ways.

Personally I'd like to see boulevards, bump-outs, etc, even if it was a two-way. If we just converted it to two-way we'd end up with more Upper James style eyesores.

And the paint isn't the expensive part, it's the required new traffic lights at every intersection.

Could you provide some links to this evidence, because as far as I can see, the trend is going the other way.

http://i.thestar.com/images/cd/b3/027d05...

(Sorry I'm not sure how links work). Those cycle tracks being built in Vancouver, NYC, Portland, and Montreal would often be impossible along two-way streets due to lack of space and increased potential for collisions.

In the theoretical sense, a one-way grid requires less road space for the same amount of cars than does a two-way grid. That means that one-way grid provides more excess pavement for patios, bike lanes, transit, etc.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-06-07 15:33:20

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 16:02:57 in reply to Comment 78118

I guess I'm confused. I thought you were arguing that we need to find a compromise between liveability and through traffic, but now you seem to be saying that you prefer one-ways because they offer more liveability and less convenience for through drivers than two way streets.

So which is it, compromise or prioritizing liveability at the expense of through traffic? Because it seems to me that if compromise is the goal, two-way is the way to go.

I also question how one-ways are better for cyclists. The restricted one-ways you are proposing might offer more room for bikelanes, but I'm not sure the majority of cyclists appreciate having to ride several blocks out of their way to get to their destination anymore than drivers do.

Nor have we even touched on the fact that two-ways are better for street retail. Given the crucial role it plays in our local economy, it seems to me that if we are going to prioritize any one street user over another, it should be the people who have invested in our streets, and whose lives and livelihoods depend on them.

I'm willing to concede that in some cases restricted one-ways can offer liveability and more space for pedestrians and cyclists, but to my mind the goal should be balanced streets that balance the needs of all users, including drivers and businesses, and for me that means two-way.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-06-07 16:18:01

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 18:52:32 in reply to Comment 78121

I guess I'm confused. I thought you were arguing that we need to find a compromise between liveability and through traffic, but now you seem to be saying that you prefer one-ways because they offer more liveability and less convenience for through drivers than two way streets.

You certainly are confused. My point is that lively streets are just as possible on one-ways as they are on two ways. You're just complicating it by trying to play one team against the other.

Nor have we even touched on the fact that two-ways are better for street retail.

This might be true if the majority of customers are arriving in cars, (in itself this is quite impossible, because on-street parking will never provide enough parking spaces to sustain a full retail strip). Any pedestrian-oriented retail strip will get most of their customers from pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

I also question how one-ways are better for cyclists. The restricted one-ways you are proposing might offer more room for bikelanes, but I'm not sure the majority of cyclists appreciate having to ride several blocks out of their way to get to their destination anymore than drivers do.

Perhaps you should have clicked the link above, because it clearly shows a two-way cycle track alongside a one way street. This is how two-way cycle tracks are built in pretty much every city they exist.

Somehow, I get the feeling you are going at this debate with blinders on.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-06-07 18:56:13

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:03:37 in reply to Comment 78101

Despite the predictions of doom from naysayers, the City converted James and John to two-way. After a very short period of adjustment, life went on and most people concluded that all the fear was unwarranted.

This, incidentally, is what happens every time a city converts a bunch of streets back to two-way: detractors predict gridlock and chaos, but gridlock and chaos don't happen and soon everyone agrees that it was the right thing to do.

I have every confidence that the same thing will happen again when Hamilton converts the next series of streets back to two-way.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By downtowninhamilton (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 21:29:05 in reply to Comment 78105

Come take a drive on John South, down or up the Jolley Cut, at morning rush hour. Come by on a Friday or Saturday night. It's either backed way up/down or being treated as a freeway. Guess that's what you would call a two-way fail.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:11:00 in reply to Comment 78105

I can only hope you are right.

I'm sitting here in Toronto watching bike lanes being literally ripped out of streets, because they had some minuscule impact on traffic and that made some people irrationally angry.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:17:41 in reply to Comment 78109

Speaking of Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, do you get the sense that his proposal to convert Yonge and Bay to paired one-way streets has any support on Council?

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-06-07 14:18:18

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:30:19 in reply to Comment 78110

It's impossible to predict Toronto City council. Yesterday plastic bags were banned on the fly, and nobody saw it coming.

Denzil Minnan-Wong made a point of mentioning that one-way conversions would involve the addition of protected bike lanes, which certainly baited my support.

Yeah, it's really a toss-up. Most citizens are neutral on the idea as far as I can tell.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By This is engaged? (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:28:33 in reply to Comment 78058

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Paul V (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 08:28:01

Been a while since I visited Montreal but I recall the speed limit on one-way streets is slower, therefore more walkable/liveable. Also, cities like Montreal are closer to critical mass in some areas so continue to grow and evolve in places where conditions are less favorable. Cities like Hamilton don't experience the same 'spill over'

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:14:13 in reply to Comment 78061

The speed limit on Montreal main streets is 50 km/h. I'm not sure what your second point means, but these avenues are considered the most desirable in the city.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By MVH (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 09:04:23

Good points Kent.

I agree with most of what you said. I too would like to see some sort of study or plan which looked at traffic calming measures, and adding more parking along the streets. Changing the timing of traffic lights would help. There appears to be two rigid mindsets about how to tackle the problem, and a little more flexible thinking could provide the benefits espoused by all.

I live and work downtown, however I occasionally need to drive out of it as part of my job. Proper traffic flow and livable neighbourhoods can be reached together.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By argybargy (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 09:26:35

Personally I think 3-way streets are the way to go.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By two ways (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 09:32:26

We've had 2 way streets since the dawn of civilization and 1 way streets for half a century. The burden of proof is on the 1 way streets defenders to explain why we should keep following there failed experiment instead of following a 10 000 year track record of success.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 17:54:05 in reply to Comment 78073

Brilliant argument... since we did something for a long time, it is the best option?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:36:11 in reply to Comment 78073

It's only considered a failure in a handful of cities. Most cities don't have a problem with their one-way streets, although they're better designed than Hamilton's freeway-streets, that's for sure.

The reason is because of cars. If I was the dictator of Hamilton, you can bet I would ban cars from downtown and have 4 LRT lines running through the city, but unfortunately I'm not and we have to negotiate with all citizens.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:52:56 in reply to Comment 78098

Actually, literally dozens of cities across North America are currently converting their streets back to two-way after deciding that the streets were failing their residents and businesses in their previous configuration.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:02:12 in reply to Comment 78100

Actually, literally dozens of cities across North America are currently converting their streets back to two-way

I have to admit I was not aware of this. Do you have an article about it?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:07:50 in reply to Comment 78104

Terry Cooke wrote an article on this that is published in the June 2012 issue of Urbanicity. We have the author and publisher's permission to republish the article on RTH this Sunday.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 09:58:55

Here's what I come back to on the one-way streets in our city: They're highways. Calling them anything else is absurd - traffic tends to go along at about 60kph, which is faster than a residential or commercial road, but slower than an expressway.

Now, there can be arguments made in favour of these highways. Obviously we have highways for a good reason. Highways are often necessary. Let's just call a spade a spade.

So what does a highway look like? Do highways have sidewalks next to them? Not generally, but when a sidewalk exists next to one of Ontario's rural highways, it's usually protected by a ditch, or at least a grassy boulevard, not running right next to the live traffic. How do people cross highways? Well, usually there's a lighted intersection, or a push-button crossing (see Cootes Drive). You often see highways only protected with a single stop-sign, but that's not generally present in regions that have a lot of pedestrians. Sometimes you even see breezeways over the highway.

So if we want to have a highway running through downtown, are we willing to invest the money and space to make it a proper highway? To properly protect pedestrians? Because if you're going to have something as crazy as an urban highway, you probably shouldn't be doing it on the cheap. I mean, does anybody feel unsafe crossing the King St. 403 bridge (minus the terrible onramp crossing)? No, because there's a big-ass set of Jersey barriers between you and the traffic.

So here's my suggestion for our urban highways:

1) You need something on either side of the highway putting some space between the sidewalks and the road. Boulevards and ditches waste space, so let's use it for something productive. How about a bike-lane on the right and a permanent parked car lane on the left?

2) On the left, having a permanent parked lane is often frustrating to drivers since you turn left into a non-live traffic lane. So bump-outs. Commit to it. It's not a driving lane.

3) On the right, the question is how to protect the bike lane. As much as I'd love jersey-barriers or bollards, this is single-directional, and you can't really make it wide enough to accomodate a bobcat that way. Giving us a two-foot region of crosshatched "don't drive here" between live traffic and the bike lane would help and then you could plough it with the municipal snowplows instead of a dedicated bobcat. The alternative is having it at grade with pedestrians, and that's just trading one unsafe problem for another. The "luxury" model would be a bi-directional protected-bike-lane with bobcats for clearing, but that means contraflow traffic, a lot of road-space consumed, and far more expensive snow-clearing. There's no easy answer here. Yeah, I want big-ass Jersey barriers everywhere there isn't a driveway personally, but making that ploughable means losing a lot of width.

4) We could also do with some more space at the cross-walks too... bike lane to the rescue again! A nice bike-box would put more distance between drivers and pedestrians, and would also solve the trouble of turning left from our bike-lane that sits 5ish lanes away from the left-turn lane.

5) More lighted crossings. It's unsafe to cross highways at unprotected intersections. Hey, it's cheaper since they're one-way, you don't need the backwards-facing traffic lights, and it doesn't slow down traffic because of the Green Wave! But drivers look ahead at the next light and miss a red! Fine, any pairs that are too close to cause the look-ahead effect should be synchronized instead of waved. Ohhh, but traffic lights are expensive! Well then just make it two-way, that's cheaper. If you really need to save money, leave off the north/south facing traffic lights - drivers already have a stop-sign there anyways, just leave the stop-sign up. You only need the 1-way traffic lights and the pedestrian crossing lights.

6) Anything that doesn't need to be a highway shouldn't be a highway. We don't need two westbound highways, so King can be two-way east of Queen Street. We don't need Herkimer and Bay and Bold and Charlton and all those smaller roads in Durand to be 1-way. (as an aside, Cannon needs a big expressway-style sign at Queen Street saying "THIS FREAKING WAY TO THE 403/QEW" so people don't keep lumbering along Cannon/York Blvd and get stuck in the quagmire of Dundurn... it's a highway, sign it like one).

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-06-07 10:24:15

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2012 at 09:20:48 in reply to Comment 78075

Anything that doesn't need to be a highway shouldn't be a highway.

And no street that runs through an urban neighbourhood should ever be a highway.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2012 at 09:43:33 in reply to Comment 78170

I know that, and you know that. But the traffic engineers refuse to acknowledge this. Plus, Hamilton is full of voters that like the downtown highways because they don't have to live next to them.

So what's a plan we can actually get? At least as an intermediate step? Something we could aggressively target and get Hamiltonians to support?

"Everything but the east/west corridor, and do what we can to make the east/west corridor safer" isn't the optimal solution by any stretch, but it would be a huge improvement over what we've got now.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-06-08 09:44:11

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 21:10:33 in reply to Comment 78075

The problem with this argument is that the streets that you designate as "highways" will in practice get dumped on even more than they already do.

Anything that doesn't need to be a highway shouldn't be a highway. We don't need two westbound highways, so King can be two-way east of Queen Street. We don't need Herkimer and Bay and Bold and Charlton and all those smaller roads in Durand to be 1-way.

Read: affluent neighbourhoods get protected, while Landsdale/Beasley/Central get screwed even more than at present.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2012 at 09:05:25 in reply to Comment 78141

Read: affluent neighbourhoods get protected, while Landsdale/Beasley/Central get screwed even more than at present.

Landsdale/Beasley/Central would still be improved by having every street other than Cannon be two-way, and to have Cannon's traffic pushed away from the sidewalks. The only reason I pointed to King over Cannon is that King's 2-lane region with all the busses stopping in the International Village kind of fails the "highway" definition.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-06-08 10:01:08

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 10:29:12

One thing that routinely gets forgotten in the whole one-way, two-way discussion is the impacts on folks living on residential side streets along 1-way streets. They face constant traffic using their residential street as a short-cut to the other one-way pairing. Through the entire lower city it is a huge problem, and sad to say, but most folks using residential side streets as a short-cut are doing so at a high speed since they're 'in a hurry' to get to the paired freeway. 2-ways would allow folks to simply go whichever direction they want to when driving instead of having to negatively affect the safety and quality of life of our residential neighbourhoods that we so desperately want to see come back to life.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 20:17:52 in reply to Comment 78076

A short cut? Can you provide examples, or an example of what you mean?

Be careful what you wish for Jason. Imagine what will happen to the side streets when people are looking for real short cuts to bypass a busy arterial like a converted Two Way Main St.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By DavidColacci (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 21:52:08 in reply to Comment 78138

My sister and her family of 5 live on Spadina between Main & King (near IWS), and speeders doing 65kph up and down that street at all hours is normal. Going from Main to King and vice versa.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 16:01:28 in reply to Comment 78147

Thanks for the example David. Anyone doing 65 km/h on Spadina is an absolute idiot. People like that shouldn't have a driver's license.

I have a question though. How do you know these people are using Spadina to get from/to King/main? Can you see them do the whole stretch? How can you not be sure that the speeders in question don't live on the street or are visiting someone on the street? The reason I ask is because it doesn't make any sense to use Spadina to go up or down to access Main or King. The only people I can think of that it makes sense for to use Spadina would be people leaving Adelaide Hoodless School and wanting to travel West, or people leaving Church on Sunday. What am I missing (I'm asking because I'm curious, not in a smart ass way)?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By DavidColacci (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 19:51:23 in reply to Comment 78209

It seems that people traveling west on King and East on Main use these North/South residential streets to cross into their own neighborhoods or to double back for some reason. They seem to use them to avoid lights at Sherman, stop signs and lights on Gage.

We don't know for certain that every dipsh!t doesn't belong there, but there are only so many people, you know?

And quite honestly, when they bought the house we were all shocked at the volume and speed of the traffic in that neck of the woods.

Comment edited by DavidColacci on 2012-06-08 19:52:37

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By round and round (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 10:32:30 in reply to Comment 78076

Another overlooked thing is the amount of extra driving from people circling around blocks to get to the one way street going the way they want to go.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 20:15:06 in reply to Comment 78077

This is more of a problem when a majority of a city is gridded with One Way Streets. There are small pockets in Hamilton where this is a "problem", but not in most of it.

Of those who do defend One Way streets, I don't think many would be against converting One Way side streets to Two Way. I wouldn't anyway.

If Canon, King, and Main were to remain One Way with almost every other street being Two Way, the whole "extra driving" argument wouldn't amount to enough of a difference to be worth bringing up.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By slodrive (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 11:22:45

I think the one-way streets downtown have to go. My environmental antennae perk up a bit at the worry of slowing traffic, but it just seems two way makes too much sense.

For an intra-city highway to work, I think it has to be done like the Linc. No adjacent residences that have to deal with it -- in a matter of speaking.

The only question I do wonder about...and I'll throw this out for some discussion...is if Main and King were predominately commercial corridors, with all adjacent streets being two-way - and flourishing, would we be having this conversation?

Or, more brashly, if the adjacent neighbourhoods had the attraction of a James North, coupled with a regularly busy Copps and Hamilton Place, would a more hybrid approach be more palatable? Would we want traffic on certain 'light-residential' corridors to be quicker to bring visitors to the venues or neighbourhoods of interest...while maintaining livability in the surrounding streets.

(Edit: And, does the one way make it any easier to be adapted for LRT?)

Just thinking out loud here. But, I do believe the situation dictates what makes the most sense. In the here and now, I think two-way makes most sense. Interested in comments on the above, though.

Comment edited by slodrive on 2012-06-07 11:25:11

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:21:03 in reply to Comment 78081

"The only question I do wonder about...and I'll throw this out for some discussion...is if Main and King were predominately commercial corridors, with all adjacent streets being two-way - and flourishing, would we be having this conversation?"

Well, Toronto matches this description, and there is a discussion floating around about converting some Toronto streets into one-way streets.

"(Edit: And, does the one way make it any easier to be adapted for LRT?)"

I would say yes. Imagine if the LRT proposal involved converting King to two-way in the process? It would be DOA.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By jason (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 12:51:38 in reply to Comment 78081

My environmental antennae perk up a bit at the worry of slowing traffic

however, a complete street, accessible by all users would result in many more people choosing to walk, cycle and eventually use transit once we have a decent system with LRT etc..... a fast, 1-way freeway encourages one kind of transportation mode: cars.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:22:42 in reply to Comment 78085

Why are you conflating one way street with "fast 1-way freeway".

It needn't be fast or freeway-like.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:33:30 in reply to Comment 78095

But if it's not fast or freeway-like, what's the point of it being one-way at all?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:42:11 in reply to Comment 78097

Because one-way systems have a higher throughput volume compared to an equal amount of two-way roadspace.

Please don't confuse volume with speed. I know you subscribe to the traffic-evaporation theory, but in real life traffic jams happen: in Toronto, rush hour is roughly 12 hours per day.

One-ways allow for more throughput in less space, which means more excess space is available for bike lanes, sidewalks, LRT lanes, etc. I see them as a golden opportunity.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-06-07 13:43:10

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:59:20 in reply to Comment 78099

I'm not suggesting that traffic jams never happen, but the situation in Toronto is compounded by the very high population densities downtown and the fact that the transit system, already more expansive than Hamilton's, is also running at capacity.

A better solution for Toronto will involve further expansion of rapid transit service, combined with some kind of congestion pricing to reduce the number of people driving vehicles into the city rather than taking transit.

The extensive lane closures on Main and King Street in Hamilton over the past year have demonstrated clearly that we currently have vastly excessive lane capacity. We've literally cut lane capacity in half on the bottleneck across Highway 403 with no congestion impacts.

In short, managing volumes of non-divertable automobile traffic is not a problem facing this city - but depressed urban street retail is, and two-way streets have been shown to improve economic circumstances for street retail.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-06-07 14:06:32

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:05:53 in reply to Comment 78102

The extensive lane closures on Main and King Street in Hamilton over the past year have demonstrated clearly that we currently have vastly excessive lane capacity.

I see this as a golden opportunity for bike lanes, sidewalks, beautification, etc. Conversion to two-way actually compromises more pavement space to cars.

Two days ago, an article was posted here about downtown neighbourhoods, and they said that they either wanted 4-lane two-way streets, or 2-lane one-way streets. I'd rather have the latter than the former, personally. It gives us more space for better uses.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-06-07 14:06:02

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:26:59 in reply to Comment 78106

Conversion to two-way actually compromises more pavement space to cars.

Which is precisely what makes it a better compromise for drivers. If one-ways are no longer moving large volumes of through traffic quickly and efficiently, what are they for exactly?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 15:52:57 in reply to Comment 78113

Why are you playing this like a zero-sum game? Not everything good for drivers is automatically bad for everybody else.

For the sake of the argument, lets pretend the # of cars remains constant between these two scenarios.

1) they move through calmed one-way streets efficiently but at a speed averaging 35 km/h or 2) they are doing the stop-and-go thing from one traffic jam to the next on two-way streets averaging 25 km/h

I don't see option #1 being any worse than #2 for pedestrians and street life. It's certainly not a problem on Montreal's beautiful streets.

  • please be aware I used average speed, which includes stopping, not max speed. Let's say the posted maximum is 40 km/h in both scenarios.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 16:13:43 in reply to Comment 78119

I don't see option #1 being any worse than #2 for pedestrians and street life. It's certainly not a problem on Montreal's beautiful streets.

Maybe not, but it is worse for the 200,000 voting drivers who expect to be able to blast through our city doing 50 - 60k who you told us we have to compromise with, at least worse than the reality of two-way streets and not the bumper to bumper 25k scenario you are predicting.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-06-07 16:30:17

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 19:07:39 in reply to Comment 78123

I think we're both confused here.

For drivers, scenario #1 is better than #2. For pedestrians, both are equal.

When one party can gain without loss to the other party, it's a win-win.

From my talking to drivers who are opposed to the two-way schemes, I have identified that most are willing to compromise so long as it doesn't lead to traffic jams. Most of them do realize that things have to change from the status quo.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 20:37:13 in reply to Comment 78133

No, my point was you have no basis for claiming two way streets will result in bumper to bumper 25km/hr traffic. Even the study spacemonkey links to states that travel times after two-way conversions don't increase by more than 6 - 7%. The 35km/hr one-way scenario that you propose is worse for the 200,000 voting drivers than the reality of traffic conditions for two-way conversions.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-06-07 20:38:33

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 21:10:16 in reply to Comment 78139

Highwater,

If you're noting the study I think you are, it is important to note that the study didn't say that travel times increase by 6-7% for One Way to Two Way conversions. The study said that in the specific example(s), that was the difference in travel time.

I think it is a fair assumption that if 4 lanes of One Way were converted to 2 or 1 lane of Two Way, there would be more than a 6 or 7 % increase in travel time.

(edited to add...)

If you want to argue that the conversion of King or Main will only increase travel time by 6 or 7% then you also have to acknowledge that driving speeds will increase or at least stay the same because you have to account for the time spent stopped at the increased number of red lights (time spent at a stop) the drivers will encounter on route.

Comment edited by SpaceMonkey on 2012-06-07 21:13:14

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 21:20:50 in reply to Comment 78140

This would also be the case for the restricted one-ways that kettal is proposing, but with none of the benefits for street retail and local drivers.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 21:17:16 in reply to Comment 78140

To the point of the 25k traffic jam alarmism that kettal is claiming? I'm sorry, but that is just not borne out by the experience of either our own or any other city.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 22:06:49 in reply to Comment 78143

What? Are you trying to claim, as fact, that no other cities experience traffic jams?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 22:54:44 in reply to Comment 78149

No. I am pointing out that the experience of two way conversions in our own city as well as others, shows that the increase in drive times post-conversion is minimal. The dire predictions of traffic jams and 25k average speeds consistently fail to materialize.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 22:06:13 in reply to Comment 78143

Not alarmism, it's reality. If your car has the average speed feature, you'll probably notice that your average speed is well below the posted speed limit due to red lights, etc.

Since it's not possible to properly synchronize lights on two-way streets, you will be getting more reds, and it will decrease your average speed. Yes, this is true both in Hamilton, and every other city you could care to name.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:08:16 in reply to Comment 78106

Check out this rendering of Main Street: we don't need to make a choice between two-way traffic and bike lanes.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:22:11 in reply to Comment 78108

I saw that article and loved it. When I showed the rendering to some other Hamilton residents, however, they pretty much exploded in rage at the thought.

That's actually what led to me writing the above article.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Al Huizenga (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 19:44:24 in reply to Comment 78112

They'll need to get over it, I'm afraid. Just because many cross-town drivers feel that their need to save a few minutes trumps our need to be safe, healthy, and enjoy a decent quality of life, doesn't make it so. It's a shameful injustice, and we can't compromise with that. We have to fight it.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By jason (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 15:14:32 in reply to Comment 78112

Educate them. They're probably the same residents who sit around at BBQ's ripping apart the state of downtown and the lower city etc..... help them put 2 and 2 together.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 15:57:46 in reply to Comment 78116

oh, I tried.

But I came to the realization that I could not proclaim in good faith that two-way traffic is a prerequisite for a beautiful lively street.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 14:58:48 in reply to Comment 78112

This is my frustration. I've seen people moan about the rush-hour traffic on James N and Locke st, wishing those neighborhoods could return to their previous form... I wonder how the people who live there would feel about that?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By jason (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 15:15:12 in reply to Comment 78115

haha...anyone who complains about 'traffic' on Locke needs to move to Listowel. I'm on Locke everyday....never seen a traffic problem ever.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 12:26:44 in reply to Comment 78081

if Main and King were predominately commercial corridors

Main and King are predominantly commercial corridors, but they're definitely not flourishing. Business owners identified one-way streets as an impediment to customers back in 1957, and those who have hung onto life are still sounding the alarm.

does the one way make it any easier to be adapted for LRT?

The Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis actually concluded that LRT will be more successful if it is coupled with conversion to two-way traffic on the city's east-west streets.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By slodrive (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 11:32:01

Ultra side-note..."Defence" with an "s" makes me cringe!! I protest in accordance with the Queen's English!

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By oh oh (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:06:08

Got we a new troll--This is engaged?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By trollbo (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 13:19:00 in reply to Comment 78090

New troll or an old troll come back for more? "This is engaged" sounds a lot like Allan Taylor (Turbo).

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 18:05:25

Here is a clipping from an article comparing One Way and Two Way to support the OP's article. from http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/...

A study conducted in 2005 showed that conversion of one-way streets to two-way operations in Denver, Indianapolis and Lubbock, Texas, increased accident rates by 25 to 37 percent. Conversely, conversion of two-way streets to one-way operations reduced accidents in Sacramento, Portland and the State of Oregon reduced accidents by 10 to 51 percent.2 A 1998 study showed that one-way streets at downtown intersections had 22 to 25 percent fewer accidents.3 Other studies show similar results for motor vehicle accidents and also indicate that conversion to two-way operations increased the number of pedestrian accidents.

To everyone who has made up their mind that Two Way streets are, without question, "better" than One Way streets, are you willing to accept that they are more dangerous?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 22:19:55 in reply to Comment 78131

Btw, the 2005 study referenced above is none other than No Two Ways About It by our old friend Randal O'Toole, for the now defunct but delightfully named Center for the American Dream of Mobility and Home Ownership, an adjunct think tank of the illustrious Cato Institute.

Even the authors of this report acknowledge some of O'Toole's "sources are anecdotal and some of the studies date back to the 1950's."

Good ol' Randal O'Toole. Always good for a chuckle. It will be a sad day if one-way proponents ever find a more credible source to support their position.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-06-07 22:29:17

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 22:56:24 in reply to Comment 78151

That doesn't change the fact that the same (or very similar) results were found elsewhere by other studies.

The 2005 study only relates to the data for Denver, Indy, and Lubbock. All of the other studies/data are still true even if you don't like O'Tooles study.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 09:36:36 in reply to Comment 78156

That doesn't change the fact that the same (or very similar) results were found elsewhere by other studies.

In her 2009 book One-way to Two-way Street Conversions as a Preservation and Downtown Revitalization Tool, Meagan Elizabeth Baco has this to say about the 1998 article you reference above:

Pedestrian safety has always been a concern for traffic engineers. At the time of many two-way to one-way conversions, it was believed that one-way streets offered several advantages to pedestrians. The main principle of this promotion was based on the need of both drivers and pedestrian to only be aware of traffic traveling in one direction. There are also sources that contend there are fewer vehicle/pedestrian conflict points in a one-way system. An article in the Journal of the Institute of Transportation Engineers in 1998 calculated that there are either two or four conflict points in a one-way system depending on the number of lanes and type of turns allowed, up to 24 conflict points of any two-way configuration Furthermore, because vehicles only travel in one direction, both head-on and left-turn accidents will dramatically decrease. It has been stated that traffic accidents involving both vehicle/vehicle and vehicle/pedestrian conflicts can decrease between 10 to 50 percent if one-way streets are employed.

While there are indicators for the level of safety provided to pedestrians on one-way streets, there is a similar amount of evidence that contradicts that conclusion. The Traffic Engineers Handbook published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers indicates, “vehicles turning left out of one-way streets appear to hit pedestrians significantly more frequently than do all other turning vehicles.” Furthermore, in an article published in the Journal of the Institute of Transportation Engineers in 2004, a computer model was used to compare one-way and two-way networks and concluded that on one-way streets, vehicles travel at higher speeds, have a lesser average delay, and stop less often, and because of these attribute are not safe for pedestrians.

Superficially, it would seem that crossing single direction of traffic on one-way streets is preferable to crossing a two-way street. As is often the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong. In fact, crossing a one-way street presents greater difficulties to the pedestrians than crossing a two-way street. The explanation lays in the greater numbers of different vehicle/pedestrian conflict sequences that are encountered in crossing a one-way street.

Analysis of vehicle/pedestrian conflict points by those advocating for two-way streets has been calculated as two possible sequences for conflicts at a two-way street intersection and sixteen possible conflict sequences at one-way intersections. This is a much different conclusion than that previously presented from the article “One-Way Streets Provide Superior Safety and Convenience.” It appears that with the manipulation of specific intersection criteria it is possible to determine a far different number of vehicle/pedestrian conflicts. The individual intersections in commercial districts must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to create an accurate measure of pedestrian safety.

While the number of vehicle/pedestrian conflicts and the rate of accidents cannot be unequivocally determined until the traffic pattern is determined and implemented, there are indications that two-way streets are safer. As noted earlier, two-way streets, regardless of posted speed limit tend to have slower vehicular speeds. A decrease in vehicular speed decreases both the total number of collisions and because of lower speeds can decrease the seriousness of those collisions.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 15:49:21 in reply to Comment 78172

Thanks for the additional info Highwater. Maybe you can dig up some dirt on all of these studies:

Forbes, G., 1998 "The author questions whether a clear link can be established between the direction and speed with which traffic is traveling and the level of economic vibrancy downtown. Until that link is clear it is hard to either reject or accept the push to change from one-way to two-way streets as an attempt to revitalize downtowns".

Cameron J. W., Johnson K. D., 1983 After converting two roads from Two Way into a One Way pair, "analysis revealed both a decrease in the number of accidents per million vehicle miles, and a decrease in the percent of severe accidents for the one-way pair. The accident rate on 7th Street decreased from 34.71 to 23.44, and that for 9th Street decreased from 19.83 to 19.46. Over the same period, the accident rates on cross streets decreased but their s accidents increased. The number of pedestrian accidents also decreased after implementation of the one-way system. Overall from a traffic and safety perspective the one-way system brought increased flow at higher speeds with a reduction in both delays and accidents. The project was reported to be favorably accepted by the public from the attitudinal survey, and survey respondents indicated a desire for more one-way street conversions in Bismarck.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 16:01:33 in reply to Comment 78204

Too easy. Do you have any studies that aren't from the '80's or '90's?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 16:42:51 in reply to Comment 78210

Beggars can't be choosers. ie. there aren't many studies around on this sort of thing. It's not like we're studying drugs here. That said, here is one.

Lyles R. W., Faulkner C. D., Syed A. M., July 2000 "One of the most comprehensive documentations of the issues related to one-way/two-way street conversions (concluded that) the key arguments advanced for converting two-way streets to one-way in the literature are; low cost of implementation (relative to street widening), increased capacity, decrease in number of stops, increased speed of vehicles, perceived safety (pedestrians face traffic from only one direction), reduction in accidents, and ease of maintaining signal progression. On the negative side is the issue of driver confusion (especially for non-local drivers disruptive impact of business operations on affected and neighborhood streets, pedestrians being forced to cross more lanes of traffic."

Yeah, I know it's not screaming out in favour of One Way, but it doesn't scream out in favour of Two Way either.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2012 at 09:56:31 in reply to Comment 78172

Thank you for sharing. This seems to be the most important conclusion:

two-way streets, regardless of posted speed limit, tend to have slower vehicular speeds. A decrease in vehicular speed decreases both the total number of collisions and because of lower speeds can decrease the seriousness of those collisions.

Again, it's technically possible to construct a one-way street in such a way as to enforce slow-moving vehicles; but in doing so, you eliminate the only advantage of one-way streets over two-way streets - fast flow for through traffic.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 15:35:39 in reply to Comment 78174

Ryan, why do you continue to tell repeated lies? You know that there are other advantages to One Way streets beyond "fast flow for through traffic".

Since you're pretending to forget about them, I'll remind you.

Additional benefits include, but are not limited to:

1) Increased carrying load. This means that fewer lanes can effectively carry more cars, leaving more space for wider sidewalks and bike lanes.

2) Decreased starting and stopping. This results in less fuel used, less wear on brakes and less emitions compared to the same trip on a Two Way.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 09, 2012 at 07:51:35 in reply to Comment 78203

1) Increased carrying load. This means that fewer lanes can effectively carry more cars, leaving more space for wider sidewalks and bike lanes.

1) Increased carrying load. This means that fewer lanes can effectively carry more cars, leaving more space for more lanes.

There; I fixed that for you. Don't forget - this is Hamilton we are talking about.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2012 at 06:06:33 in reply to Comment 78156

Every one-way-is-safer road inevitably leads back to the many times discredited Randal O'Toole, a right-wing pundit thinly disguised as a transportation planner, and the same handful of studies that were conducted in the 1950s using rudimentary methodologies that misrepresented the data.

The only reason O'Toole gets any oxygen at all is because he makes arguments that appeal to deep-pocketed anti-government dogmatists and the news media feel obliged to present 'both sides of the story'. Real transportation planners generally don't take him seriously.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-06-08 06:42:32

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 08:49:19 in reply to Comment 78159

...a right-wing pundit thinly disguised as a transportation planner

He studied forestry and economics in Oregon, but did not graduate. He has no professional planning credentials, and his work is funded by the oil and gas industries.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 21:15:09 in reply to Comment 78131

Such studies are nearly useless when they don't report pedestrian traffic data. (Cannon St. would have more collisions if people didn't go out of their way to avoid walking along and across it).

Yes, that also applies to the Hamilton study.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 21:21:18 in reply to Comment 78142

John,

Where are you when Ryan mentions "his" studies?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 22:52:47 in reply to Comment 78145

Hi SpaceMonkey,

Well, you can quote my posts here in the future if you like.

What I'm primarily concerned about is the individual pedestrian's chance of being in a collision. When a particular type of street design tends to promote greater pedestrian traffic, that might explain a higher pedestrian collision rate. The street might not be more dangerous to each pedestrian, but with more pedestrians there are more opportunities for collisions.

Conversely, if a street design tends to deter pedestrians, then a low pedestrian collision rate might underestimate the danger to an individual pedestrian.

So I don't think that any of these numbers can be taken as having much precision. However, when a study shows higher pedestrian collision rates on one-way streets, it probably underestimates the actual relative risk for the individual pedestrian (if, as I would imagine, pedestrians tend not to want to walk on one-way streets). Conversely, when a study shows lower pedestrian collision rates on one-way streets, it might simply be confounded by the fact that one-way streets have fewer pedestrians.

You might answer that in Hamilton one-way streets tend to have other design elements (multiple lanes, etc.) that increase pedestrian hazard -- so that the perceived risk in the Wazana study might be confounded by other aspects of street design -- and I'd agree. But I'd then argue that those other aspects of street design also need to be changed. And I agree with Ryan that a lot of the benefits of one-way streets for long-distance traffic flow are lost as soon as those other design elements are removed.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2012 at 09:17:07 in reply to Comment 78154

What I'm primarily concerned about is the individual pedestrian's chance of being in a collision.

The Hamilton study looked at a child's risk of being injured on the street per kilometre of street, which is an important dimension, even if it's not the only dimension that matters. It tells us that children are disproportionately injured on a given length of one-way street, at 2.5 times the rate of injuries on same length of two-way street.

It would definitely be more helpful to see an additional study of a child's risk of being injured on the street as a function of the pedestrian population on that street - anecdotally, there seem to be a lot more pedestrians on two-way streets than one-way streets and I'd love to see a more rigorous analysis - but the data we do have is nowhere near useless.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-06-08 09:17:43

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 15:52:50 in reply to Comment 78169

How about volume of traffic per km on the roads studied? Why wouldn't the authors consider that? I think we both know the answer.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 16:21:11 in reply to Comment 78206

Because the author of the study owns stock in a yellow paint company?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 23:14:05 in reply to Comment 78154

Hey John,

Thanks for the thoughtful and fair response.

I agree that it's hard to draw a conclusion based on the data that is available. In fact, I think the point of all my posting regarding this Two Way vs One Way debate is just that... that one can't draw a conclusion about what is safer/better for an entire community.

I don't want to sound confrontational, but I do have to take issue with you saying "the fact that one-way streets have fewer pedestrians". I don't think that's true. It certainly isn't true for many streets around the world. I think that it may not even be true in Hamilton. Sure, there may not be many pedestrians on Canon, but there are a lot more pedestrians on King and Main than there are on most of Hamilton's two way streets.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By CouldaShouldaWoulda (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 07:25:51 in reply to Comment 78157

"I don't want to sound confrontational, but I do have to take issue with you saying "the fact that one-way streets have fewer pedestrians". I don't think that's true. It certainly isn't true for many streets around the world."

I've walked some great, lively, pedestrian-friendly streets. In NYC and elsewhere. Normally what makes it so has to do with the general intent of the area...and of course, its history is probably paramount; an historical, established nehighbourhood, with long-standing, deeply-entrenched traditions can thrive with one-way streets. (I reject in totality blanket statements. It's not 'all this' or 'all that'. Life's not like that.)

However...

My pet-emnity street is Main West from Dundurn to Bay. 'The Esplanade'. I would say to you that despite the concentration of residents, the very nature of this thoroughfare renders a very, very low pedestrian-activity rate. I *hate* walking it. It is a sensibility-killer. It is inhospitable. (Not just for pedestrians. Try turning onto it from any of the side-streets when traffic's-a-flyin'. Not pleasant.)

The other examples you cite are vaid, but I'd suggest it's the case *in spite of* rather than *because of* them being one-way.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2012 at 19:30:08 in reply to Comment 78131

To everyone who has made up their mind that Two Way streets are, without question, "better" than One Way streets, are you willing to accept that they are more dangerous?

Taking those numbers at face value? Sure, it makes sense that there are more accidents on a two-street.

But here's a question for you: would you rather be walking and hit by an average car on James North in 1999 or in 2012?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 20:10:38 in reply to Comment 78134

Thanks for the honesty Moylek.
I'm not familiar enough with James in 1999 or in 2012 to be able to answer your question, but I do admit that I would prefer to be hit by a slower moving car.

That said though, I'd rather have less of a chance of being hit overall.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2012 at 22:13:27

I agree 100% with your comment that Upper James is very unfriendly for being a two-way street. It is a very intimidating street to cross.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.

By kettal (registered) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 16:22:32 in reply to Comment 78150

That's pretty much the core of my argument. If we turn Main Street into Upper James, we've gained nothing.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Steve (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2012 at 21:09:28

What do people love, one way streets or the sychronized lights? Or is it the both together?

How about one way with unsynchronized lights, would they be as loved? We could measure by unsynchronizing one set of lights, then the next year another, and the year after that another, etc.

Then ask do you want one way with pedestrian friendly speeds, or 2 way synchronized? Then measure which is more desired.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 09, 2012 at 11:34:25

I think we have to look at two distinct features of a street: traffic flow and street design, we have a tendency to lump these two things together. I have been to a lot of large cities in many different countries and I think this article is trying to make a point that I have observed to be true.

Good street design can make up for the amount and direction of traffic flow on a street but changing the direction or amount of flow on a street cannot make up for poor street design. What we have in Hamilton is more than a traffic flow problem, it is a street design problem. Main St. is a hideous street regardless of what way traffic flows. Barton is two-way, it sucks too.

This city needs more than just the painting of new lines we saw on York. I think Adrian Duyzer's article from a few days back is an indication of where we need to go. We need bold ideas in this city, not tepid half-measures.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2012-06-09 11:35:12

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

Comment Anonymously
Screen Name
What do you get if you divide 12 by 3?
Leave This Field Blank
Comment

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds